Present at the Label Cannes 2020 festival which was canceled due to Covid, Ammonite is Francis Lee’s second realization. The young filmmaker has started his career successfully with portraits of romance between two men in Only the Earth. This time, alongside Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan, the Englishman retraces mid-19th century England, the fictional romances of Mary Anning, a renowned paleontologist, and Charlotte, a recovering city woman. Missing a theatrical release in France, the film was streamed live on Canal+.
PORTRAIT OF THE GIRL THAT BURNS AGAIN
The evil spirits would head straight for the obvious, but partially inaccurate, comparison with Portrait of the Burning Girl (our review). Screenplay Awards at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, Céline Sciamma’s feature film, worn by Adèle Haenel and Noémie Merlant, also sheds light on homosexual relationships in past centuries. A time when social conventions and romance were much more compelling and normative than today (in theory, let’s get along well).
Indeed, Amon subtly signifies the contextualization of the male-dominated world of the first order. It is arranged around the feminine figure I am not assigned to clean the floor, to “push” to let go and men to remove the frame to make way for the invention of his masters. However, beyond the asymmetry of the place given to women in relation to men, social and economic dimensions add additional violence to this exercise of male domination.
And while Sciamma’s film emphasizes the emancipation of two women in the face of the traditional patriarchal model, Ammonite succeeds in a tour de force blending several ideological battle lines that do not violate the amorous and sexual liberation of the two women. , or on a rather well-structured feature film narrative.
ACCURACY AND WITHOUT HURRY
Indeed, Francis Lee, previously lauded for his first film Only the Earth (our review), tackles with considerable accuracy to point out the social divide between the two women and the differences between the bodies of his female cast. First, in wisdom and grace, the director paid special attention to the filming of Kate Winslet at work. The real engine of her character’s life, highlighting physical and mental effort gives this character great strength and defines her in the social space, in contrast to Charlotte, from the city and under the tutelage of her husband. .
However, these opposing spheres turn out to be connected by sexuality as well as by Charlotte’s great effort to associate with Mary’s assertiveness when Mary last went, for example, to collect heavy stones and find fossils. And even at the level of bodily attraction, the physical differences between a tired working woman and a groomed woman shape the sensual and erotic attraction between these two characters. In this particular case, Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan’s choice of casting is somewhat in Francis Lee’s favor, who takes a certain decency to film his actress decently.
Thus, Amon managed to pose a gaze problem very precisely. Central to the project’s success is the fact that it questions the representation of lesbian romance by directly confronting the question of staging, of the space given to the camera. This position of gaze is found to be quite discreet in the sex scenes which do not come to satisfy the author’s libido, but rather seek to capture the doubt, the desire to give pleasure to the other, but also the buried fear. everything stops.
Despite some pitfalls and certain academics due to the Victorian universe, Francis Lee captures, with Amon, the unspoken and perfectly masters the silent sequences where other filmmakers would add lines of dialogue to kill time. Towards the end of the film, one of Mary’s lines comes to deliver a touching reminder of her secret romantic past. A way of showing the difficulties of developing in this society as homosexuals and the very dangerous path that awaits them to tend to sentimental development.